Breaking into: Journalism

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Securing a graduate job in journalism remains highly competitive, given its widespread appeal to graduates across various academic disciplines. Writing about virtually anything makes journalism a sought-after field, and breaking into it requires strategic planning in today's job market.

A degree in Journalism?

While a graduate degree is crucial for a career in journalism, it doesn't necessarily have to be in journalism or English Literature. For instance, aspiring writers for publications like New Scientist may benefit from a science-based degree, showcasing both subject expertise and writing skills.

One effective route is completing a postgraduate course in journalism or article writing, offered by many colleges and universities. This can significantly boost your chances of getting noticed and securing interviews. Alternatively, demonstrating writing abilities through blogging or contributions to student and local publications during undergraduate studies can also be a compelling approach.

Who hires Journalists?

Being a journalist is not limited to reporting for a broadsheet, Journalists can find employment in newspapers, magazines, newswires, press agencies, websites, radio stations, television companies, and periodical publishers so transferring between sectors is a very real possibility in this field. Many also opt for freelance work, but success in this requires a robust network of industry contacts, the ability to pitch compelling ideas, and a reputation for reliability.

Networking, internships, and speculative applications, accompanied by samples of published work, can be a way to stand out due to the limited advertising for many positions. Some major employers, including The Times, The Guardian, and the BBC, offer graduate trainee schemes.

Salary Realities in Journalism

Earnings in the field vary significantly. According to Indeed, the average salary for a journalist in the UK is £32,316, with differences based on factors like the type of publication and seniority. National newspaper reporters might earn around £40,000, while those on regional newspapers or small consumer magazines may earn closer to £25,000. The BBC, with fixed salary bands, pays between £22,442 and £32,500 for their graduate schemes.

Qualifications and Training in Modern Journalism

While there are paths into journalism for both university graduates, some organisations now require a degree. Although any subject is acceptable, preference is often given to degrees in English or journalism, with specialised subjects like economics, languages, or sciences providing a competitive advantage.

Certain jobs may necessitate a qualification accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Some universities offer master's courses or postgraduate diplomas in journalism that hold NCTJ accreditation. The BBC provides trainee and graduate schemes for entrants without formal journalism qualifications, and students in journalism and related courses can join the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) as student members.

Relevant work experience is crucial and can be gained through published articles, freelance work, writing competitions, or voluntary work. Participation in a university newspaper or magazine is also valuable, however, a full, clean driving license is often a requirement as journalists often need flexible travel.

Key Skills for Thriving in Journalism Today

• Enthusiasm

• Stamina

• Determination

• Confidence

• Perseverance

• Excellent oral and written skills

• Interpersonal skills

• Excellent attention to detail

These attributes, combined with a proactive approach to staying informed and adapting to the evolving media landscape, can contribute to a successful journalism career in the present-day competitive environment.

If you are ready to dip your toe into this industry, browse through our available opportunities in the media sector today!